Fine Gael Galway East Deputy Ciaran Cannon has today insisted that routing the Dublin - Galway Greenway through the town of Athenry is an absolute necessity.
Engineers based in the greenway project office in Ballinasloe are currently looking at routing options for the greenway from Athlone to Galway, and Deputy Cannon says that while it is correct to start with a blank canvas when designing the new route, leaving Athenry out would be unconscionable.
“I met with the project team some weeks ago and I am very confident that they will be successful in delivering the final section of greenway from Athlone to Galway. They are very ambitious, committed and have learned from our negative experience of five years ago when the greenway development had to be halted because of a lack of proper public consultation.
“This time around all stakeholders will have a role to play in designing the route. So in effect we are starting with a completely blank canvas, and this is to be welcomed. However, it is absolutely vital that the Dublin - Galway greenway is routed through Athenry, on the basis that Athenry is also the trailhead for another major national greenway all the way to Enniskillen.
“It would be unconscionable to develop two greenways, one from Dublin to Galway and ultimately on to Clifden, and another from Athenry to Enniskillen, without the two being connected to one another. “Not having those two greenways connected would be a massive waste of taxpayers money and would actually undermine the success of each greenway in terms of attracting visitors”, said Deputy Cannon.
“The recently published National Greenway Strategy and North West Region Spacial and Economic Strategy both cite the importance of developing a national network of greenways. For such a network to operate successfully it has to be a fully connected network. Major funds are already committed to the Dublin - Galway route and just last month our Department of Transport committed €1m to begin developing the Athenry to Enniskillen Route.
“We can’t countenance the prospect of having two greenways running East - West and North - South, and not having them connected to one another. That’s why Athenry town has to feature in our planning from on, it would be deeply irresponsible not to do so.”“I am in constant contact with all stakeholders in our region who are anxious to see success in developing these two greenways. Such a development would be of immense benefit to Co. Galway as a whole and would make us quite unique, being at the crossroads of two internationally significant greenways” concluded Deputy Cannon.